Desert ecology features long time-frames and extreme seasonal unpredictability. In addition, Australia's arid rangelands have unique social, cultural, land-use and land tenure characteristics that influence appropriate conservation management. These circumstances have not been adequately incorporated into current conservation models, which rely on statutory control and (inadequate) grant funding. Application and management of the capital supposed to finance an effective response to the unique features of Australia's rangelands thus remains largely divorced from actual circumstances. This paper briefly describes these unique features and the structure and characteristics of the capital currently applied in natural resource management. It then outlines a new conservation approach - the New Integrated Conservation model - to better match the actual natural, cultural and institutional 'ecology' of Australia's rangelands. The model has three elements: a new fiscal ecology, multiplex governance arrangements and the incorporation of multiple objectives and mixed approaches into conservation management.